Whenever someone thinks of India’s spirituality, the first name to strike the memory is Kashi. It is such a holy city in Varanasi to be called as Spiritual Capital of India. I was pleasantly surprised when I came to know of the Lord Siva Temple at Virudhachalam which is a Mukthi (salvation) temple and considered as holy as Kashi. This temple is called as Virudha Kasi and worshipping here is regarded to give the same benefits of worshipping Kasi Viswanathar.
Virudhachalam is about 215 kms from Chennai and well connected by bus and train. The temple is at a distance of 2 km from the railway station.
This is a large temple with 5 temple towers and each of them are seven tiered. Upon entering the main tower, there is a view point on the left side from which I could see the magnificient view of all the gopurams (towers). Lord Vinayaka’s temple inside the campus is unique by its location 18 feet down the ground level. Hence He is referred as Pathala Vinayagar. After having Darshan of Lord Vinayaga, I entered the main tower which is named as Gandaraditya tower after the Chola King Gandaraditya who is the forefather of Raja Raja chola. Gandaraditya himself was a staunch devotee of Lord Siva and sung hymns in praise of the Lord which is part of Panniru Thirumurai (Saivism literature). Another significant feature I could see is things which were in multiple of 5 – five Nandis, five Praharam and five Kodimaram (flagstaff). After having the Darshan of Pazhamalainathar in the sanctum, I went to circumambulation of temple premise admiring the beauty of the sculptures in the temple tower.
On the southwest inside the temple premise, there is a Lord Muruga temple with 28 Siva Lingas installed in it. As per the legend, each of these Lingas represent the 28 Saiva agamas and praised by Arunagirinathar in his literary work Thirupugazh on Lord Muruga. There is an amazing 3000 year old Vanni Tree ( Botanical name -Prosopis cineraria) which is considered as the Sthala Viruksham.
This Paadal Petra Sthalam has been praised by Sundarar (3 pathigams), Gnanasambandar (7 pathigams) and Appar (1 pathigam). It is said that when Sundarar visited this temple he had 12000 gold coins and felt uncomfortable to travel along with this, hence he left the coins in Lord Siva’s custody here and collected back in Tiruvarur. Thus the lord acted as the treasurer for his devotee Sundarar!
Lord Siva: Pazhamalainathar, Virudhachalesar
Ambal (Goddess): Periyanayaki, Virudhagambikai, Balambikai
Sthala Vriksham : Vanni
Theertham : Manimuthar